Toussaint Jean-Philippe

The truth about Marie

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Santrauka: Let us now add to the roster of celebrated Belgians the name of Jean-Philippe Toussaint. I suspect that not many people over here will have heard of him, but he wins prizes on the continent; in my opinion, deservedly.He is, and I can already hear my audience shuffling towards the exits as I say this, an experimental novelist, or, to be more precise, one who is as interested in working out, in front of you, how the story is told as well as what the story is. Or, to put it another way, to ask inconvenient questions about how the omniscient narrator gets his knowledge. This has been a perfectly legitimate thing to do since Sterne, or Joyce, and certainly Beckett, whom Toussaint most resembles stylistically. It is, in short, a way of addressing the problem of narrative in the novel, whose extreme example is the way that a bad novelist – let us name no names – will say "so-and-so brushed his teeth" in such a manner that the reader goes "no he didn't", and throws the book away.This is the kind of thing that Toussaint brings up from time to time in The Truth About Marie, but he doesn't make too big a deal of it. (As his career has progressed – he's been publishing since the late 1980s – he's been making less and less of a deal of it.) And indeed this latest novel could be read as conventional – were it not so extraordinary.

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